Photography 101: How to Break a Photographic Rut

Hitting a photographic slump can happen to even the best photographer. You shoot the same subject matter, process with the same techniques, fill client requests, and work day in and day out doing the same thing. This maybe great for the bank account, but sometimes that can destroy your creativity. Hitting the creative wall can be detrimental to your mood. However, there are some solutions to help break free from this black hole.

One of the easiest things you can do is try something new. This can be anything from shooting different subject matter, processing a photo with a new technique, or even just changing up your normal shooting times. Simply altering one aspect of your photography can not only inspire you, but it may also open your eyes to a completely new photographic world you may not have considered before. Change can be a very good thing!

While we are on the subject of change, why not change up your style for a week. In fact, why not combine several styles into one photo. There are no rules that say you cannot shoot a black and white HDR macro image of a bottle cap. Maybe you want to shoot some long exposure street photography. Again, you are dabbling in something new and foreign, yet that can lead to new tools and personal styles you draw upon at a later time.

Another thing you can do is start some sort of photography project for yourself. Maybe you want to shoot a self-portrait every day for a year, or maybe you roam around your state taking photos of churches. The key to these projects is to make them something that interests you on some deep personal level. When you start to tire of the everyday normalcy and find you just don’t have it in you to press that shutter button, look at your project list and work on some of your personal projects.

Along the lines of the projects, shoot something you love. Take some time away from all the humdrum of everyday life and shoot the subject matter that is near and dear to your heart. This little tip can go a long way to reminding you why you enjoy holding a camera in the first place.

Finally, sometimes you just need a mental vacation. Just as you would take vacation from work, you sometimes need a bit of time away from the camera. Take a day, week, or even month to re-center yourself. Take this time to just enjoy the world around you, even if that means you have to lie in a hammock and watch the clouds pass for an afternoon. When you pick your camera back up, you may just find that the time away has filled your mind with a wealth of new ideas, projects, and desire!

Hitting a rut can suck, but you don’t have to sit in that rut for a long period of time. Find the solutions that help inspire you and keep you going, jot them down in a notebook, and come back to them when you find yourself unmotivated to photograph anything. You never know, the process may even teach you a few new skills you can incorporate to take your photos to the next level!

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  1. I tried the self portrait every week for the year and it morphed to every month, which is okay. I spend a lot of time on photography challenges – which is fun. I love photographing people, but I don’t want to do the standard headshots all the time. Street photography is a blast and I’ve found a way to bring it into my studio, by photographing random people I meet. Next week, I’ll be working with a tarot card reader 🙂

  2. Good post Chris, with some great ideas, so thanks for this! I am right at this stage now, feel as if I have no talent whatsoever and don’t know why I am doing it – luckily am off on holiday on Friday so will have a good break, and hopefully come back refreshed and feeling more creative once more.

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